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Ukrainian native takes trip to Poland to help refugees

POCATELLO, Idaho (KIFI) - For the past few months, Lena Contor has been raising money to get a visa for her mother from Ukraine to the United States.

When two friends told her they needed to go to Poland to help refugees, she thought she could use the money another way.

"They didn't speak Polish or Ukrainian or Russian, and I speak Russian and Ukrainian and I'm learning Polish," Contor said. "So, they asked me to accompany them and to be the interpreter."

Contor says many refugees are women and children who are worried they will get picked up for sex trafficking. 

Ultimately, she wanted to use her translation skills to help in any way she could.

"We would always drive with a van full of something," Contor said. "Usually suitcases, bags, water, rain jackets and we would deliver them at the border, and then we would bring a van full of people back to city. We did it every single day for about three weeks."

She says she heard first-hand accounts of the horrors her people had experienced. 

"She said they did not take a shower for 16 days," Contor said. "They couldn't even take their shoes off just so they could feel a little bit better, because everyone would die from the smell."

"She said a family in front of them died from the bomb and the family behind them," Contor said. "They had to step over their bodies. They saw parts flying all over and body parts, and they had to keep moving."

With just two days before returning home, Contor got the chance to see her mother in person.

"It was a fun reunion," Contor said. "It was really nice to see her."

But Contor says she will never forget the heartbreak of the trip. 

"They are so traumatized," Contor said. "That was the hardest part for me being there is hearing their stories and what they went through. It is even worse that what they are showing.”

As for bringing her mother to the United States, Contor says it is still a complicated process that will require multiple overseas trips in order to bring her home. 

You can help Lena in her efforts by either contacting her at (208) 237-2290 or donating via Venmo @lenacontor.

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Cole Sams

Cole is a reporter for Local News 8 and KIDK Eyewitness News 3.

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